World champions Italy came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw against Paraguay in their opening FIFA World Cup Group F fixture in Cape Town.
Marcello Lippi's side were made to work hard for even a point to kick off their title defence.
Centre-back Antolin Alcaraz headed Paraguay in front six minutes before half-time, but Daniele De Rossi pounced when Justo Villar was unable to claim a corner to break down the South American side's rigid defence on 63 minutes.
The onus may have been on Italy to set the pace in the group but, following torrential rain, both sides were forced into safety-first approaches. Indeed, the Azzurri barely saw the whites of opposing keeper Villar's eyes throughout the first 45 minutes, Riccardo Montolivo's soft shot as good as it got for the defending champions.
Aureliano Torres also missed when he dragged wide from the edge of the penalty area, but Paraguay did not have to wait long to find a more fruitful route to goal. Torres's well-flighted free-kick from the left flat-footed the Italian defence and Alcaraz jumped above De Rossi and Fabio Cannavaro to head low and forcefully to Gianluigi Buffon's left.
Lippi was forced to substitute Buffon at half-time and the Juventus keeper's replacement, Federico Marchetti, should have been called into action after seven minutes but was given a reprieve when Vera fired wide from ten metres.
Dogged and organised, Paraguay appeared to have little cause for concern until the 63rd minute when De Rossi poked into an unguarded net after Villar had come for and missed Simone Pepe's corner.
The equaliser put a spring in the Azzurri step but, stinging shots from Pepe and Montolivo aside, they failed to provide a sufficient test of Villar's resolve.
Italy will meet New Zealand, who open against Slovakia on Tuesday, in their second group game in Nelspruit on Sunday.